As stem cell therapy research advances, so does nursing

March 24, 2015 | by Nicole White

The promise of stem cell therapy has long been studied in laboratories. Now, as medicine enters an era in which this therapy will be increasingly available to patients, the nurses who help deliver it will be in the spotlight.

stem cell Nurses in the Alpha Clinic for Cell Therapy and Innovation at City of Hope will develop new nursing standards for stem cell therapies.

City of Hope, which has launched its Alpha Clinic for Cell Therapy and Innovation (ACT-I), is among the first to have a dedicated clinic for leading-edge stem cell therapy. The clinic's nurses will bridge two disciplines that have long been separate: compassionate care, for which City of Hope is known worldwide, and protocol-heavy stem cell clinical trial research.

"In the Alpha Clinic, we will have staff who are seasoned in working with inpatient units for stem cell transplants, and we will combine that with excellent clinical research nursing support in a much more coordinated fashion than we've seen in any place else to date," said Shirley Johnson, R.N., senior vice president, chief nursing and patient services officer at City of Hope.{C}

Johnson will lead the charge for assembling the nursing team to staff the clinic. These nurses will be on the front lines of patient care and clinical research. City of Hope's ACT-I is one of three Alpha Clinics funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine in an effort to bring stem cell therapies that have been successful in the laboratory to patients who can benefit from them in a clinical trial setting. City of Hope's ACT-I launched March 19.

City of Hope nurses are uniquely well-qualified to lead the way in this new nursing discipline, because both research and patient care are at the core of the institution's mission.

"By virtue of having research at our heart, I view our nurses as scientists in and among themselves," Johnson said.

Combining the best practices for patient care with the best practices for cell therapy will chart new territory in the field of nursing. Already in oncology nursing, nurses can attain what's known as dedicated competencies for chemotherapy and biological therapies. As part of the clinic, City of Hope will be developing a specialty certification for work in cellular therapies.

"As we advance our knowledge regarding cellular therapies, we need to develop competencies for the use of cellular therapies in treatment," Johnson said. "We believe ultimately we will provide opportunity for specialty certification. We'll work with others in the Alpha Clinic network and see if this can be expanded on the national level."

Ultimately, the clinic will offer the most advanced cellular therapies, as well as develop the best practices for offering those therapies to patients, a perfect union of City of Hope's dedication to compassionate care and scientific exploration.

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Learn more about City of Hope's Alpha Clinic for Cell Therapy and Innovation. Search for nursing careers at City of Hope.

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Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). You may also request a new patient appointment online. City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.

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